Wednesday, October 31
Sunday, October 28
We had a long walk this afternoon in Prospect Park. The weather was gorgeous and the air brisk. We discovered the Audubon Center, which I'd seen from afar but never entered. It was full of children in their Halloween costumes as well as nature displays. A ranger was talking about the great horned owl which was perching on her arm.
It's exciting to me that we live so close to something so wonderful.
Friday, October 26
My show opened last night. This week has been exhausting, more work than I've put into a design in a long time, but I'm very pleased with how it turned out. I'll be taking photos next week and will post some to show you a little of the final product.
In other news, Christopher's stocking is zipping along. Check it out:I eliminated a repeat of zig zags between the Christmas trees so it doesn't become an unmanageable size. I don't miss them at all!
Sunday, October 21
Saturday, October 20
The play that I am currently working on is about two homeless people on a subway platform. They are visited by the Angel of Death. We need magic on stage. Making this magic happen has been stressing me out a little. I've dreamed big and now I need to make it happen.
This weekend is the last weekend before we load the set into the theater. Today and tomorrow we are building and painting the set. That is, a carpenter is building it and I am painting it. Monday we go into the theater, Tuesday we play with lights and cues and such, Wednesday we have a dress rehearsal with an audience, and Thursday we open. A lot has to happen between now and Monday. Our carpenter, aka our TD, is building the set in a storage space in Bushwick, Brooklyn. I went out there today to paint it. There was a mix up in the lumber order and a lot hasn't been built yet. In any case, I spent some very pleasant hours on the roof of the storage space, priming the walls that had been built and enjoying the view. The weather was also perfect and windy. I felt a little like I was on a boat (except that I was on a rooftop).
I'll spend the day there tomorrow, making those walls look like subway walls. Wish me luck!
Friday, October 19
I feel like I've just been complaining about my health (and other things) on here, but it's not that bad. And it's going to get better.
I spoke to my doctor yesterday and we discussed the fact that if my headaches seem to be stress related I should start thinking more about managing my stress. We talked about me possibly seeing an acupuncturist. I'm not sure if my insurance covers it, but it might be a plan, and that makes me feel better. Already, I feel more under control. I'm trying to breathe deeply, relax my shoulders and jaw. I'm drinking lots of herbal tea, something called "calm" and I made myself a little heating pad with some left over fabric, rice and lavender. I put it in the microwave for 30 seconds and then lay it over my head or shoulders or neck and the stress just melts away. Well, maybe not completely, but I it does help relieve tension.
This weekend will be a busy one, which is too bad since Sunday is our first anniversary. (The good part is that my set will be done or at least in progress, which should alleviate some of the stress I'm feeling). I'm bracing for the chaos and trying not to let it paralyze me. It does feel overwhelming. In other news, poor Dinah has been so neglected that I didn't notice that she had a big sore on her ass until Tuesday night. Christopher had to take her to the vet on Wednesday. The vet was a little shocked by how bad it was and now Dinah is on antibiotics. We have to bring her back next week so the vet can reexamine her; Dinah wouldn't let her near the sore as it was. So now, twice a day, I get to give Dinah a little squirt of medicine down her throat. She is becoming more savvy about how to avoid it and gags every time I give it to her. To reward her bravery, I give her a treat after each dose, and she's started running to the kitchen after the medicine to get it. Now that she's feeling better, she's gotten much perkier which means she's back to her demanding, clingy, princessy self. Gotta love the fuzzball.
Tuesday, October 16
I've just got another week to go with this play I'm designing. There's a lot of planning the hours on certain days, coupled with wondering how I'll occupy myself on other days: hurry up and wait.
I saw the neurologist yesterday and he was rather dismissive of my headaches, accounting them to stress. I'm to cut down on the medication he gave me before (which has alleviated them for the past two weeks), so now the headaches are back. The pain just grinds me down. I don't know what to do. In other unhappy news, Christopher's sweater doesn't fit him very well. It seems to be just the wrong shape, or perhaps it's too big. It's hard to tell in the state it's in. This afternoon I was revving up to rip out the sleeves and reknit them smaller. I just had him put the sweater on again and it looks more like the problem is that there's just tons of fabric right under the sleeve, in the body of the sweater. I'm taking a big breath and have decided to continue onwards, sew on the buttons, block in and then see what needs to be done. Maybe it will all come together.Strangely, I get a lot of joy about thinking about life after the show opens. It's not been an unhappy process, but it is making me really anxious. Is it that I need more work to keep me occupied, so there's less time to worry about details? Or is it that I'm not cut out to work in theater?
Sunday, October 14
After yesterday's post, I received a wonderful email from my mother which basically said that knitting is not an obsession or escape: it is (at least in my case) an art, and that I should give it that sort of respect. Hearing that from her was a huge relief, a permission of sorts to continue exploring something that has been giving me a lot of pleasure (though I do have this nagging guilt about it).
In any case, yes. I love crafts. I love making things, whether that be a sweater or a meal or a model for a set. I love trying out new combinations and seeing what happens. I love experimenting, seeing what I'm capable of creating. This afternoon I settled down with my sewing machine and made two little blankets for a play that I'm designing. They are supposed to be little fantasy blankets, little bits of comfort to two homeless people from the angel of death. Yesterday I bought some silk and today I just sewed it up. It was very satisfying and easy and now I have some scraps that I feel like I should make something with. Our apartment is a little less deluxe though, so I'm not sure what the scraps would be good for.
I also took a walk this afternoon. Christopher went to a writing group and I was done sewing, so I took advantage of the end of the daylight and get out. It was such a beautiful day! Crisp, sunny, perfect fall weather. I wandered through Prospect Park and just took in everything. I felt a little like I was in that M. Night Shayamalan American Express commercial, the one where he sees meaning in every little gesture. That was what my walk was like. Completely refreshing and invigorating (since I didn't bring my camera I'll share a photo of the park in March, which of course is very different.) My lesson today: that I need to remember to give myself permission to reflect and also do things that I enjoy. When I do, I am a more centered person. The trick is to give myself a few hours to do something for me, whether that be a walk, some time with my sketchbook or the sewing machine.
Saturday, October 13
My beloved Park Slope Food Coop, which I can wax poetic about for hours, is driving me crazy. I joined the Coop in May 2004 and was told then that debit card machines were in the works, that within a few months we'd be able to pay with debit cards. This turned out to be a big lie, and so for the next 3 years I continued to pay for my groceries with cash.
Until now. On October 1, they installed a new cash register/debit card system, which you think would just make everything easier. But alas no. The two times that I have shopped since October 1, both of the cash registers where I've been checking out have frozen and I've had to stand there for 15-20 minutes while someone fixed it. That's two for two. Added to my disillusionment is that on Wednesday, when I did my squad leader shift, two of the other squad leaders (who were responsible for making sure that everything runs smoothly with the cash registers and the cashiers, whereas I'm responsible for making sure the shelves are stocked) did not show up. And I was left to try to pick up the pieces on the shopping floor. It was horrible.
I am not happy with the Coop and have actually decided that it would probably be better to use Fresh Direct for the next month until they've sorted out their new checkout system.
In any case, this is probably bothering me more because of a general anxiety I've been carrying with me for the past month, anxiety which is contributing to frequent headaches that I'm now in the process of being tested for. I've had an MRI. I'm scheduled for an ENG. I sort of feel like a week at a spa or doing yoga would fix my health problems, that they're really just stress-related. (and of course the headaches and appointments only make me more stressed) How can I convince my insurance that acupuncture would be cheaper for them than a brain scan? Or maybe they can send me to a weekend yoga retreat (also probably cheaper than an MRI).
To deal with my sense that nothing is under control, I've been, -yes, you've guessed it!- knitting like mad. Christopher's stocking is coming along (did I mention that it's going to be huge!?) and I've also now started a sweater for myself. Stitch Therapy. If only it really took away my stress; I feel like the knitting is more of a happy compulsion, perhaps an addiction...
Sunday, October 7
What I didn't mention in my last post was that I knit a shawl for Julie as a going away present. I think of it more as a security blanket, something to comfort her while she's away. Something to remind her of her family. Being me, I chose a rather complicated lace pattern for the shawl, something from Victorian Lace Today. It involved a knitted-on border (my first) and intricate blocking. The whole thing was a learning experience and I'm rather proud at having finished it in about a month. My point is that I was knitting like crazy to finish it in time and, well, now I can't stop. To add to my new knitting addiction (which up till this point was confined to my subway commute) there is a brand new knitting networking site: Ravelry. I know I've mentioned this site before. The best I can explain it is that it's like Facebook for knitters. I have a profile where I can post photos of what I've knit, the yarns I have, keep track of what needles I need and what knitting books are on my shelf. I addition, I can see other people who have knit the same sweater as me, as well as their notes on it and what yarn they used. And then I can see what other projects that person has knit. I've discovered that I tend to be drawn to patterns by a specific designer and, with one click of a button, I can see what else she has designed. And if any of those strike my fancy, I can add them to my queue of projects to knit in the future. You might see how this can get out of hand fairly quickly.
But it's also incredibly inspirational. There are some amazing knitters out there. And there are some beautiful yarns. And some people even design their own projects (!). I feel like I am understanding more and more about this craft, how yarns work, different techniques. I'm finding it all rather exciting.
And so. My next project is: A Christmas Stocking for Christopher. I saw this pattern last fall but didn't really know where to begin with knitting it. It's a Fair Isle pattern, which means that the pattern is made up of different colors. I've only ever made one other Fair Isle object, a pair of mittens that took me several months to finish.) The other hitch was wondering if it should match my Christmas stocking, which my mother knit for me when I was a baby. It is red and an incredible lace pattern, nothing like Fair Isle.
But now, since I can't stop knitting, I don't care. I'm just going to knit this damn Fair Isle stocking, it's going to be beautiful even though no, it won't match my stocking. So, on Thursday I just happened to stop in my local yarn store to see if there was anything for me to use. Not really-- most of the yarn there is a little too heavy. But the owner persuaded me to buy something and I'm really excited to see how it works out. Here is a swatch I knit yesterday: And then today -- get this!-- I redesigned part of the pattern. On the original design there is a zig-zag motif with checks that just wasn't doing it for me, so I changed it to a zig-zag motif with little snowflakes.
Oh! I am so proud!! (Now i just have to knit the thing. I have 2 months...)
Thursday, October 4
I feel like the older I get, the more I think about my past. My cousin Julie is in the Army reserves and is being sent to Afghanistan this fall; I believe that she started active duty on Monday and so we gave her one last hurrah at a party on Saturday. It was bittersweet-- too many people to get a real conversation in and yet I felt a real longing to connect with her before she goes.
Of all of my cousins, Julie is closest to me in age. She is a year and a half older, and when we were kids we played together like good friends. For some reason we would always hang out on the lavender carpeted steps at our grandmother's house, or else we'd mix cocktails of different sodas (Sprite and root beer?) from our grandmother's bar. At some point, sometime around 1985, our grandmother took us both on a cruise to Bermuda. Julie and I would wander around the ship on our own and apparently -at least according to her - I was a terrible troublemaker. I can't help wishing I remembered these things with more clarity. All I remember was that as a child I felt unbelievably alive when I was with Julie. We climbed trees, we explored the cruise ship. And yet this also seems so recent, so much a part of who I am now. Sometimes I feel like I could just reach back and be there.
But now Julie is a mother and a nurse and a soldier, and I'm a wife and a New Yorker and a set designer. But I feel like we still could connect the way we did when we were twelve, if only we had the time and the freedom and the space.